Iowa State supports transfer of Iowa Energy Center



Lesly Espinoza

Iowa State University is supporting a plan to move control of the Iowa Energy Center, the state’s top energy research center, to Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration.

However, there are public fears that it might involve the interests of public utilities like MidAmerican Energy and Alliant.

The Iowa Energy Center runs under Iowa State University’s administration. It was created by the Iowa General Assembly and signed into law in 1990.

With 27 years of operation, the center has statewide and national leaders promoting energy efficiency and alternative energy research.

The energy center’s goal is to increase energy efficiency in Iowa, conduct and sponsor research to develop new energy systems and decrease the negative impact of energy production systems.

The center also supports research and provide grants, $4 million per year, to Iowa colleges and universities on a competitive basis.

The mission of the Iowa Energy Center, which was created as an outreach center, is to assist Iowans in the assessing of technology related to energy efficiency and alternative energy production systems, as well as support educational programs that encourage energy efficiency.

John McCarroll, executive director of the Office of University Relations, said the work that the center has funded benefited many programs including bio-based and wind energy systems throughout the state and energy savings programs.

One program is the Iowa B3 Public Building Benchmarking Program. It works to encourage Iowa’s biggest energy users, its public buildings, to focus on becoming more energy efficient.

The Iowa Energy Center is under the leadership of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and will be transitioned to Branstad’s administration by the IEDA, according to the December 2016 Iowa Energy Plan.

Iowa State University fully supports the new and expanded role of the center and is committed to working with the IEDA to receive a smooth transition of management responsibility, McCarroll said. 

“This was a decision made by the utilities and Iowa State University, one which we are supportive of,” said Ben Hammes, communications director for Branstad’s office.

Because the center was introduced by an act of the legislature, the move will require legislation to transfer control of the center to the IEDA. The bill, however, has not yet been introduced.